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The First Conviction For Female Genital Mutilation In Ireland Has Occurred

The mother and father a young girl who was seemingly subjected to female genital mutilation (FGM) have today been jailed.

In the first case of its kind, a man and woman have been found guilty of committing FGM on their child and have been sent to prison as a result. 

The father and mother, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were sentenced to eight years and six months and seven years and seven months respectfully, on both FGM charges and child neglect.

Both parents had denied allowing FGM – the ritual cutting or removal of some or all of the external female genitalia for non-medical reasons – to be carried out on their daughter, who was just under two years old at the time, in September 2016. 

According to The Journal, both parents had claimed their daughter sustained her injuries after falling onto a toy while not wearing a nappy at the family’s Dublin home.

This version of events was disputed by three medical experts who gave evidence.

Female Genital Mutilation has been illegal in Ireland since 2012, following a decade of campaigning.

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Some 5,795 women and girls in Ireland are dealing with the consequences of female genital mutilation (FGM), according to registered charity AkiDwA, a network for migrant women.

For Western Europeans, the process of removing or damaging parts of a child's external genitalia is regarded as simply barbaric, but for those who have grown up with FGM as a cultural norm for generations, it’s a different matter. 

Unicef (the United Nations Children’s Fund) estimates that it is still practised in roughly 30 countries, with prevalence rates among females aged 15-49 as high as 98 per cent in Somalia, 97 per cent in Guinea and 90 per cent in Sierra Leone.

In such communities, the belief that girls are not marriageable if they have not undergone FGM drives parents to perpetuate the practice, to prevent their daughters from becoming social outcasts.

There are four types of FGM, as classified by the World Health Organisation:

Type I involves partial or total removal of the clitoris.

Type II includes that, along with partial or total removal of the labia minora (two small folds of skin that extend backwards on each side of the opening into the vagina).

Type III, the most drastic, involves cutting and positioning the labia minora and/or labia majora (the larger outer folds of the vulva) to create a stitched seal over the vagina orifice, with or without cutting of the clitoris.

Type IV covers all other harmful, non-medical procedures to the genitalia such as piercing, incising and cauterisation.

It is generally carried out by an older woman in the community, usually without the use of anaesthetic or antiseptics. The cutting instrument could be a razor blade, knife, scissors, piece of glass or scalpel.

Speaking today after the first conviction and sentencing for the Offence of Female Genital Mutilation Detective Chief Superintendent Declan Daly, Garda National Protective Services Bureau said:

"Today’s conviction and sentence represent the first of its kind in Ireland. It sends a strong and important message that Female Genital Mutilation, the mutilation of children and young girls, is not and will not be tolerated. It is a heinous and barbaric practice which is a criminal offence in Ireland.

"Ireland has a long and proud history of embracing traditions and customs from abroad, however, there can be no ‘welcome’ for any activity which brings harm to children.

"Our communities need to be vigilant and aware of this crime and anyone who suspects or believes a child is likely to be subject to Female Genital Mutilation either here or being brought outside the country for the purpose of Female Genital Mutilation, to contact their local Garda station, the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111 or call the Child Abuse Reporting line on - 1800 555 222. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is an offence contrary to the Criminal Justice (Female Genital Mutilation) Act 2012."

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